February 13, 2019
Fabienne's luminous apple, a MacIntosh, was painted in the fall but I've fallen way behind in posting... so here it is at last!
She was happy with everything about this painting, especially the way it glows from within, but not the dark shadow on the right, only worth mentioning because it's a common frustration in the early stages. It's hard not to default to blues when mixing shadow colours. This can make for a darkness that looks like it's sitting on top of the colour of the object itself, in this case the red. What we want is for the red to still look red but darker...red with less light coming from within. It means deepening the mix without losing that red.
But words are words and paint is paint. I like how Laurie Anderson put it: "Talking about painting is like dancing about architecture."
I, too, like the luminosity of this painting and the subtle details she managed to show very successfully...the texture and markings on the skin and that little stem shadow that works perfectly without being too blue or too dark.
We'll come back to the subject of shadows again with Fabienne...she's on a mission now.
January 30, 2019
She worked so hard to depict the leaf texture in the first painting that everything else was forgotten until she stepped back and saw what was missing.
The second painting considered the whole in balance with the details, including volume, depth of colour and shadows while retaining the ridges in the leaves she worked so hard for previously.
The result is a strong, confident and complete painting.
It often takes more than one go to really see a subject and paint it well, but the results speak for themselves.
July 23, 2018
Lucy has only been drawing for less than a year and this is her first finished botanical painting.
For someone so new to art practice it is truly remarkable what she's been able to achieve in such a short time, expressing volume and subtlety of colour with such delicacy.
July 8, 2018
Fabienne's new painting of curling dried maple leaves showing both front and back in a delightful circular composition.
She told me that she painted the back of the leaf quite quickly and was much happier with the result, after having spent so many weeks on the front, struggling to get the curls and shadows right.
Sometimes things go better when you get out of your head and just trust yourself, your eyes and your brush.
Easier said than done!
June 27, 2018
June 16, 2018
As I've mentioned in previous posts, Meriel lost most of the sight in one of her eyes a few years ago. She loved the experience of painting so much that after an initial stage of discouragement, she adapted to a looser approach and hasn't looked back since.
For this painting I lent her my large watercolour block (12"x16") and off she went. She painted the flower head first, and came back a week later to add the leaves and stem. The resulting painting, a class favorite, is as light and airy as the flower supported by some dark, anchoring leaves.
She has since purchased a larger block of her own and is painting in her local community garden space. I'll be posting some of those in the near future.
June 4, 2018
Below are the pictures I took of it as it developed along with the final painting so you can see how it came into colour before it reached completion.
February 21, 2018
Buddha's Hand | Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis
Yes, it is a lemon! And a beautifully exotic flowering shrub. But when it fruits it looks a bit like an octopus tree. Painting it was a challenge and Pam's study got cut short as it decayed and she couldn't find a replacement. Still, she started getting a good amount of it's bumpy skin painted before the end came. And the colour...
"Though it looks like a lemon gone wild, the Buddha's hand is actually a distinct fruit in the citron family. It has a sweet, lemon blossom aroma and no juice or pulp. The mild-tasting pith is not bitter, so the fruit can be zested or used whole."
February 20, 2018
Meriel's been painting in San Francisco, breaking all the rules as usual, and forging her own unique path! Great to see her keeping up her practice...
This painting is a mix of watercolour and ink. She's been attending a botanical painting class taught by Mary Harden, a well known and highly respected teacher in the northern part of California.
February 19, 2018
All three of KATHRYN MACDONALD'S submissions to the Art of the Plant were accepted! There is also a conference planned during the exhibition with guest instructors and speakers.
The show runs from May 10 - October 14th 2018 at the Canadian Museum of Nature, Stone Wall Gallery, Ottawa.
Big Leaf Maple | Acer macrophyllum
Douglas Fir | Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii
Cottonwood | Populus trichocarpa
February 6, 2018
January 10, 2018
January 7, 2018
Kathryn has also been selling some prints of her paintings. She's in between lives right now so until she gets herself settled in her new home and sets up a web presence you can find out more about acquiring her artworks
by contacting her directly at email@example.com
Poplar Skeleton Leaf
Big Leaf Maple - Acer macrophyllum
Sadly for us Kathryn is packing up and moving back to Ontario this year. She will be based just outside Ottawa where she's already found a botanical painting group to hang out with. We miss you already...
January 6, 2018
This watery jewel is one of Meriel's summer paintings. She has a thing for shells...
It's already been 5 years that Meriel has been painting with us and in that time I've had the privilege of watching her develop her skills through some difficult changes. She had a bicycle accident a few years ago that broke her leg and took the sight from one of her eyes. Despite the frustrations that came with that she kept on painting, approaching her limitations with the mind of an explorer. When she was able to adjust to her new vision she embraced what became an opening for a new, more diffuse way of painting, surprising us all with the results.
All that she learned early on is still present in her new paintings along with a blossoming freedom of expression. She still manages to capture an incredible amount of detail, now more impressionistic and flowing, and a wonderful luminosity. She's been focusing on developing her understanding of colour by limiting her palette and exploring new ways of seeing.
I'm always amazed at Meriel's ability to take whatever life hands her, use it to learn something new and then bring it forward to share it with all of us.
January 4, 2018
November 18, 2017
of this little plant... a great start.
Nadia took my drawing class at Emily Carr years ago and wanted to take the painting class but got too busy with work. Already a graphic artist and illustrator, Nadia paints and draws and takes beautiful photographs.
October 30, 2017
A little window into Meriel's studio. She's been making her paintings on small cards that she then sends off to friends... it keeps her away from getting too hung up on perfection and remaining present in the process of painting itself.
October 28, 2017
Magnolia Skeleton Leaf
Time made this leaf this way, months outside in the winter rain and snow and sun.
Pam made this painting over the summer months, slowly and carefully recording every fine line and detail.
Time and patience and persistence, care and careful observation, time and the slowing down of the speed of life...
October 27, 2017
October 26, 2017
Yes, it really was this bright.
Elizabeth had a whole plant with many flowers, each of which started bright and vibrant but faded to a butter yellow before falling away too quickly. It was a bit frustrating having to switch from bloom to bloom in one painting but she got there in the end.
August 21, 2017
May 17, 2017
Here is the original drawing, wonderfully rendered in great detail. Both works retain a great sense of roundness and dimension.
May 16, 2017
May 7, 2017
Cottonwood | Populus trichocarpa
Kathryn's most recent Poplar branch.
The details are worth a closer look.
Kathryn loves to paint branches... the woody parts with all their bumps and shapes... she calls it "dessert"... the reward after wrestling with the hard-to-control washes below the veining in the leaves. It's hard to see the variety of colours in the photograph, but this branch has blue and green and yellow and violet in it.
April 29, 2017
January 13, 2017
Turban Squash | Cucurbita maxima cultivar
What she lacks in culinary charms she more than makes up for in sheer good looks...
Described in the nineteenth century as "the most beautiful in color, and the most worthless
in quality, of all the varieties of squash;...coarse, watery and insipid."
Gregory, James J. H. (1893). Squashes: How to Grow Them
January 11, 2017
Douglas Fir | Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii
The distinctive cone of a Douglas Fir... Kathryn's most recent painting of an elegant branch stripped of its needles reveals the intricate texture of the wood and its "mouse tail" tipped cone suspended in space.
Kathryn tells me that the long curly tips of this unique cone, some of which have fallen off as it dried, are called mouse tails. Here's why...
Legend says that a long time ago there was a large fire in the forests of the west. Many animals were running around frantically trying to escape the flames. Tiny mice, not fast enough to outrun the fire, were trying to find shelter in various trees. The mice approached many trees asking for their help and were continuously denied. Finally they approached the large and mighty Douglas fir tree and asked if they could take shelter amongst its branches. The Douglas fir agreed to help the mice and allowed them to hide in its cones. The mice survived the fire, and to this day, if you examine a Douglas fir cone you can see the tails of the mice sticking out of the scales of a cone.
November 10, 2016
Eastern Cottonwood | Populus deltoides
Amazing and unusual autumn colours on this small branch of poplar leaves!
This detail shows some of the remarkable colour patterns and the fine brushwork in the stem.
These leaves were painted on Arches 300lb hot pressed paper. There was much less flocking this time, and the crisp edges were easier to achieve (see 2 posts below, Poplar Leaves # 1, for notes on paper comparison with Fabriano).